July 2011

IZA DP No. 5860: Explaining Differences in Job Search Outcomes Between Employed and Unemployed Job Seekers

We use individual data for Great Britain over the period 1992-2009 to compare the probability that employed and unemployed job seekers find a job and the quality of the job they find. The job finding rate of unemployed job seekers is 50 percent higher than that of employed job seekers, and this difference remains even when controlling for differences in observable worker characteristics and job search behaviour. We present evidence suggesting that these differences in the job finding probability is caused by behavioural differences between employed and unemployed job seekers rather than differences in characteristics. Consistent with search theory, we find that employed job seekers are more selective in evaluating job offers and are therefore less likely to find a job offer acceptable; for example, they are less likely to accept low-wage and temporary jobs, or jobs that do not meet their working hour requirements.